360XQ Day 26: Facing the digital enemy

Okay, I need a gold star, friends. I have faced the digital demons and emerged, triumphant. They are represented by this parrot-lamp.

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I spent several painful hours over the past two days figuring out how to re-create my playwriting format in a modified version of Markdown. This stuff hurts my brain. I’ve done things like this before: learning to modify Wordpress and Ghost templates, picking up enough HTML to save my life, and building automation scripts in Adobe Bridge. For some, these are simple tasks. For me, it is an outright battle of code-cracking.

I am proud to say that it is done. I can now write my plays in plain-text format. I can also stop hitting myself in the head with rocks.

This is not my style

I’m using Ulysses to set this all up, because it allows me to customize the syntax (the commands I type in), and the resulting output (how it all looks in print).

Simply changing the syntax within Ulysses was easy. I set it up so that “@“ means “Character Name,” “[“ means “Stage Directions,” and so on, so forth.

But then I needed to make my own Ulysses Style Sheet, which takes those commands in, and spits out a pretty-looking play with all the correct margins, fonts, and spacing.

If you’re familiar with writing and editing CSS, this is easy. I, however, write plays—not code. I am probably more familiar with Old English than I am with CSS, and that’s not even saying much. I read Beowulf once for a class as a freshman in college.

Oh, no.

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Hacker or hack?

I read through the Ulysses style reference to learn enough of the basics of how this stuff works. I studied some of the style sheets included with the app to get a feel for the structure. I looked at sections of Jennifer Mack's files that she created to mimic Fountain, a syntax designed for screenwriting. This was all done using Brackets, a free editing program.

After that, I clutched my head and cried for ten minutes.

It was kind of like…

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If there had been a donut nearby, I would have eaten it for comfort. No such luck.

Then, after some controlled breathing and some air squats, I pressed on. I pummeled through several steady sessions of trial-and-error. I modified and re-modified and re-modified my style sheet until it finally, finally, finally looked just like the plays I’d made in Pages.

Victory dance. Triumph. Fireworks.

Guys, this is my life.

UncategorizedChad Eschman